America is not broke. But America does have broken priorities.
Americans are waking up to this reality. That’s why they are occupying Wall Street, that’s why they are protesting in Madison, Columbus, Lansing and other state capitals, that’s why thousands marched Saturday in Washington and other cities on behalf of “Jobs and Justice.”
“We are in the midst of a major economic crisis. Millions of Americans are jobless, our schools and infrastructure are under-resourced, our kids are being denied real educational opportunities and their futures are at risk. It’s no wonder that people are frustrated,” says American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, a featured speaker at the Washington rally that honored the social and economic justice legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while highlighting the ongoing nature of the civil rights icon’s struggle. “The march and rally are about hitting the streets and taking concrete action to change our nation to once again become the place where everyone has a shot at the American dream.”
The people get it, and unions and activist groups such as Progressive Democrats of America have been stepping up this weekend with dozens of events to the highlight the the issues from coast to coast.
But will Congress?
The answer will come, at least in part from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which in coming weeks will have to decide whether to maintain the broken priorities that created the current mess—or to reject them and get the country on track toward fiscal stabiliy and economic renewal.
If the bipartisan committee perpetuates the austerity agenda that is being demanded by the Republcans and conservative Democrats—and too frequently references as a touchstone by President Obama—the United States will find itself in a worst-case scenatio that combines burdensome debts and stalled growth.
That does not have to be the case.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is proposing a comprehensive plan to get the nation’s fiscal house in order while as the same time stabilizing the circumstance of social programs and spurring job growth. The CPC plan outlines $7 trillion in savings for the federal government and, just as critically, is proposes a new set of priorities that creates jobs, stabilizes communities and strengthens the social-safety net.
“It’s way past time to talk big or think big— it’s time to govern big and do what needs doing,” says CPC co-chair Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Arizona. “The American people are sick and tired of feeling too few in the government are responsive to their needs. While Republicans dither about cutting corporate taxes and dismantling Medicare, people are losing their homes, losing their jobs and losing their savings through no fault of their own. As a government, we need to look at ourselves and offer the country solutions that match the scope of the problems we face. Anything less is a waste of time.”